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The route from Keith to Huntly heads south and east and is 16.3 miles long. It has climbing of 702 feet and has been given a difficulty rating of 5.
Keith is a small town in Moray. The oldest part dates back to 1180 and developed around the bridge over the River Isla to the north. The Jacobites’ fought and won a skirmish near the town in 1746. There is an annual country show, and Keith is on the Malt Whisky trail. The town boasts three distilleries – Strathmill, Glenkeith and Strathisla – as well as housing the headquarters of Chivas Regal. The remains of Milton Tower, built in 1480, neighbour the railway station which has good links northwest to Moray and Inverness and south to Aberdeen (including to Huntly – beware, Ride the North is watching!)
You head north out of Keith from the town centre before crossing the River Isla and heading east. The route starts with a short downhill before settling into rolling roads with numerous lumps and bumps. This continues to mile 7 where you will have to contend with the hardest climb of the day. It is only 1.3 miles long but it is very steep, peaking at the high point of 512 feet at mile 8.3. You then get some respite with a descent of 2.5 miles before the next challenge, a climb of 2.8 miles that finishes in the Bin Forest. It is then downhill and rolling to the end, crossing the River Deveron at mile 15 and cycling through the north side of Huntly to finish in the town centre.
This route is more about scenery than tourist sights, though there are numerous Pictish and Neolithic pieces. It is classic Aberdeenshire, rolling roads through farm and woodland. You cycle alongside the River Isla to mile 6, with Balloch Wood on your right from mile 4. You pass through Ruthven and the remains of St Carol’s Church after 9.5 miles, and join the Deveron at mile 11.1, cycling past stone symbols at the aptly named Whitestones House. You then pass a stone circle and an iron stone at mile 11.9, and the remains of Huntly Castle is very close to the finishing point.
Huntly has had settlements dating back to the Neolithic period. There is an excavated Iron-Age fort on the edge of town, as well as numerous Pictish remains and stones. The town is the historic home of the Gordon Highlanders Regiment, and the castle is worth a visit. If you are looking for some sustenance, the shortbread maker Deans has its HQ (and a café) in the town, and there are lots of other food and drink options. There is also a train station in Huntly.
By clicking on the ‘play’ symbol on the graphic below you can see route map. The elevation profile of the ride can be seen via the Hills tab with files for use with a GPS device also available for download. If you take any photos of the route that you’d like to share, please submit to firstname.lastname@example.org